It didn’t happen to his Brokeback Mountain, and it didn’t happen to Paul Verhoeven’s Black Book, but now Lust, Caution, Ang Lee’s follow-up to his culturally significant homo opus has been tagged with the four characters that newspapers and Blockbuster love to use as excuse to pretend movies don’t exist: NC-17.

It’s been a minute since a film actually went to theaters with the MPAA’s kiss of financial death. Inside Deep Throat went out with the rating intact in 2005; This Film Is Not Yet Rated was slapped with the rating, but went out unrated instead of making cuts or walking tall, branded with the badge of honor. I’m sure there’s something I’m forgetting, but ironically the MPAA’s website is woefully incomplete when it comes to the NC-17 list; they only have 48 movies cataloged.

Crazy thing is, Focus Features head James Schamus claims he’s cool with the rating.

(Insert cartoon double take here.)

What? You’re cool with…I mean, the rating isn’t going to be an…issue? Really? So is now a good time to tell you I used your social security number to open a credit card and buy the very first Prescious Moments figurine on eBay? No, I guess not.

Not that Schamus’ reaction is really a shock. He co-wrote the film, after all, so he knew what they were getting into. And today, when an art film’s theatrical run is doomed to a couple weeks acting as advertisment for the DVD, does the NC-17 stigma really matter like it used to?

I’d rather spend time talking about the degree to which Lust, Caution and Black Book at least superficially resemble each other, anyway. Seriously; I haven’t seen the film yet but the trailer makes it out to be the Chinese version of Verhoeven’s film. And, as has been implied by the very respectable Mr. Beaks, it’s rather more distanced and cold than you’d hope for.

If you didn’t see the trailer when Jeremy reported on it a couple months back (it was C&D’d for a while) you can check it on Apple’s website: Click Here.